RR Donnelly Case

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CASE 1117 .' R. R. Donnelley & Sons: The Digital Division Artemis March "My biggest worry," said Barbara (Barb) Schetter, vice II! president and general manager ofR. R. Donnelley's Digital Division, "is that we don't become an orphan. We could build up the division and even meet our revenue numbers, yet still not be embraced by the rest ofthe organization." Indeed, by early June 1995, many group and division managers at the $4.9 billion printing giant had yet to sign on to the strategic potential of digital technology or accept the Digital Division as the most appropriate locale for the business. Some still saw digital printing as a technology in search of a market. Others had indicated that if they did decide to embrace digital printing, they might do so on their own. These concerns were very much on the minds of Schetter and Mary Lee Schneider, the division's director of marketing, as they sat down for a meeting on June 7, 1995. In two weeks Schneider was scheduled to make a presentation to one of Donnelley's business groups, Book Publishing Services, which was deciding whether to move into digital technology on its own or to bring its digital work to the division. Schetter and Schneider were hoping to craft a plan that would convince the Books Group to come to them. But they were still struggling to find convincing arguments and the right set of incentives. COMPANY AND INDUSTRY BACKGROUND R. R. Donnelley & Sons was founded in 1864. By 1995, it had become the world's largest commercial printer, with 41,000 employees in 22 countries. A privately held, family-run, Chicago-based company for almost a century, Donnelley went public in 1956; the first outsider was named chairman 20 years later. Donnelley had begun printing telephone directories and the Montgomery Ward catalog in the late 1800s, and still generated 60 percent of its revenues from directories, Source: Copyright 1996 by the President and Fellows of Harvard Business College. Research Associate Artemis March prepared this case under the supervision of Professor David A. Garvin as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffecrive handling of an administrative situation. SECTION THREE INTERNAL CORPORATE VENTURING 901 catalogs, and magazines (see Exhibits I and 2). Its major customers were telephone operating companies, retail and direct-mail merchandisers, and publishers of books, magazines, and software. In 1995, the company was organized into 38 divisions; the divisions, in turn, were collected into eight business groups, which were part of three sectors. Organization and Incentives At Donnelley, manufacturing and sales were the core functions. Schneider observed: In this company, you either make it or you sell it. Our divisions are therefore organized around manufacturing assets [i.e., plants]. 1 The trim size of the magazine, the binding requirements of the book-that's howwelook at structure. Highly autonomous, division managers were vice presidents who could choose the printing jobs they wanted to run and the equipment they wanted to buy. They sought the most profitable jobs because they were held accountable for operating profit, based on targets set during the budgeting process. Division P&Ls reflected plant revenues and costs, as well as allocations of corporate and selling expenses. Because most sales forces were aligned with business groups rather than divisions, each had a sales expense ratio that was applied to the work it sold into any plant. Until 1991, division managers' incentive compensation was tied to their particular division's profit performance. This formula was subsequently changed in the oldest parts of the company, such as commercial printing, where the assets of individual divisions were similar and could be used for the same type of work. In these parts of the company, division-level incentives became groupwide in 1991, and sectorwide in 1993. As Jeff Majestic, financial director of the Information Services Group, explained: Wecouldn't moveworkaroundwheneach division wanted to maximize its own profitability. Now the division directors ask, "Whatis the mostprofitable wayto run thisjob for Donnelley?" because they can make the best decision for the company without its affecting their incentive pay. With few exceptions, division managers reported to business group presidents. Each business group contained several plants (divisions), as well as its own sales force and such staff functions as marketing and finance. I Although the fit was not perfect. Donnelley employees used the terms division, plant, and assets interchangeably. II 902 PART THREE: ENACTMENT OF TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY-DEVELOPING A FIRM'S INNOVATIVE CAPABILITIES EXHIBIT 1 Financial Highlights Year ending December 31 Thousands of Dollars (except per Share Data) 1994 1993 Operating performance: Net sales Earnings from operations Net income Operating cash flow** Per common share: Net income Dividends Other selected financial data: Capital investments Working capital Total assets Total debt to total capitalization ratio Return on average equity $4,888,786 $4,387,761' 459,431 415,607* 268,603 245,920* 582,066 520.724* $ 1.75 s 1.59* 0.60 0.54 s 545,651 s 484,255 551,480 424,473 4,452,143 3,654,026 38.6% 27.8% 14.1% 13.3%* 'Excluding the effects of one-time items in 1993 for a restructuring charge, required accounting changes for postretirement benefits and income taxes, and the deferred income tax charge related to the increase in the federal statutory income tax rate. "Operating cash flow represents net income from operations, excluding one-time Items, plus depreciation and amortization. Source: Annual report. Operating Earnings Cash FIows' from Operations* millions of dollars millions 0f dollars ._-_.$5.0 $600 $500 .. _ ...............$500 $4.0 $400 MOO I $3.0 $300 -.$300 -$200 $2.0 $200 $100I $1.0 Net Sales billions of dollars __ 1........- $100 I 8586 87 88 89 90 91 9293 94 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 85 8687 88 89 90 91 92 93=Net income excluding one-time items 'Excluding one-time items. plus depreciation and amortization. Group P&Ls were therefore the aggregate of their plants' P&Ls, and business presidents' incentive compensation was tied to the profits and losses of those plants. According to one senior manager: This incentive system creates a tremendous bias for the business group presidents to deploytheir sales forces to fill their assets. The salesforce is an expenseto its home group: you only benefitfromit if they sell against your assets. Salespeople worked solely on commission and \ \ c ~ - : paid no matter what they sold or to whose assets the we: was assigned. Technically, salespeople were free to 'C work that was printed at any plant in the Donnelley sy' tern. Blit because sales managers' incentives, like thc-. of business group presidents, were tied to the profitat:..ity of their particular group, there was considerable pre: sure to fill the home group's plants with profitable j o ~ EXHIBI Catalog Lands' E L. L. Be, Eddie B, J. Crew Retailers Wal-Mart JC Penn: Kmart Service 11Toys "R" Source: R. In a rypi: its volurr In tot 500 peoj pany's gl buyers, \1 page. Sal about the side; the: in helpin: shorten C' agernent 1 sentatives Walter ref tative, it t{ Marketing most part current cu strategies. Sectors organizatic president c successor. three secto and Inform dent report, were also e Together, \\ staff formec The Tradil Donneilcv, printing run SECTION THREE INTERNAL CORPORATE VENTURING 903 EXHIBIT 2 Sales and Customers by Business category (0/0 of Consolidated Sales). Catalogs Magazines-18% Lands'End TV Guide L. L. Bean Family Circle Eddie Bauer Time J. Crew Glamour JPeople 31% Reader's Digest Retailers Telephone Directories-12% Wal-Mart Sprint JC Penney Ameritech Kmart Nynex Service Merchandise Bell Atlantic Toys "R" Us Southwestern Bell US West Source: R. R. Donnelley. In a typical group. the salesforce sold 80 -95 percent of its volume to its own plants. In total, Donnelley's sales force numbered nearly 500 people. They were often described as the company's greatest strength, and sold primarily to print buyers, whose first consideration tended to be cost per page. Salespeople developed considerable knowledge about their customers, particularly on the operational side; they might become quite involved, for example, in helping a catalog customer reduce inventory and shorten cycle times. Most of Donnelley's upper management had come from sales, and many sales representatives did extremely well financially. CEO John Walter reportedly said that after being a sales representative, it took him six jobs to make equivalent money. Marketing. a recent innovation at DonneJley, for the most part supported the sales forces and focused on current customer needs, rather than creating long-term strategies. Sectors were also a relatively recent addition to the organization, They were formed in 1993, when the president of Donnelley resigned. Instead of naming a successor, Walter clustered the business groups into three sectors: Commercial Print, Networked Services, and Information Resources